To the Family Members Who Exclude a Loved One With Autism

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Once upon a time there was a child with autism. He wasn’t “easy.” He didn’t talk like the other children in the family. He didn’t play the same games. He wasn’t interested in going to the same places — hot festivals, toy stores or noisy restaurants.

His family loved him, but he often wasn’t included. He wasn’t invited for sleepovers. He didn’t get the same special outings as his siblings or cousins. Initially, he didn’t notice. But as he grew older, he did. When they came by to pick up his siblings, he wanted to go too. When everyone left without him, he stood at the window and watched them drive away. But his family believed his parents understood – that he was too much to handle.

But he wasn’t. He was a joy. The outings he enjoyed were simple — rides in the car, trips to the grocery store, splashing in the pool, playing in the mud, swinging in the park. But, for whatever reason, he was never invited to do any of those things – the things he could do and enjoy — and kept being passed over for the children in the family who, presumably, were more fun to spend time with.

He continued to learn, develop and grow. Eventually, he knew. He knew he was different. But what he didn’t know was what the family assumed he would — that he was loved equally. That’s because love isn’t what’s declared. Love is what’s done. It’s easily identified in any language – or lack thereof. And when dispensed unequally – and obviously — it denies both the receiver and the giver.

He knows. You know. And there’s still time to do it differently.

This post originally appeared on Flappiness Is…

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